As bitcoin builds up to all new price highs in 2020, a large number of crypto supporters are complaining about the mempool backlog and the high fees it takes to send a transaction. Meanwhile, the Lightning Network is nowhere near widespread, and a number of attack vectors have been revealed this year.
At the time of publication, the Bitcoin was (BTC) mempool (backlog of transactions) shows 113,000+ unconfirmed transactions and the backlog has not been this high since 2017. When the bull run happened three years ago, transaction costs and unconfirmed transactions soared. Currently, according to bitcoinfees.cash data on October 31 the following BTC block fee is $ 10.77 and the current average fee is $ 6.43.
Even with the high fees and the mempool clog, the larger bitcoin community still mainly trades on the chain. The Layer 2 protocol built on top of Bitcoin called the Lightning Network (LN) would alleviate the problems, and it was believed that people would switch to the LN solution. However, this never materialized as the LN software has been considered to difficult for the average user, many apps are conservative, and there are many vulnerabilities announced this year.
Even though the LN Total-Value-Locked (TVL) has reached a record high in 2020 ($ 14.3 million), it has not come close $ 2 billion in bitcoin (BTC) held on Ethereum. The attack vectors have also made crypto advocates suspicious of the Layer 2 protocol, as a number of vulnerabilities have been revealed. For example, Joost Jager, an independent Bitcoin and Lightning Network engineer, tweeted about it on September 22.
“Lightning is great, but can’t say it’s battle tested,” said Hunter. “If script kids were interested, they could turn off that shiny new 5 BTC wumbo channels with negligible cost and without any hassle. “The fact that any script kiddie can use the ‘griefing attack’ to take those 5 out BTC channels, with very little effort, is pretty daunting.
“One of the risks identified early on is that of a widespread systemic attack on the protocol, in which an attacker triggers the closure of many Lightning channels simultaneously,” the authors said. “The resulting large number of transactions in the blockchain will not allow for all debts to be properly paid off, and attackers can get away by stealing some money. This article examines the details of such an attack and evaluates the cost and overall impact on Bitcoin and the Lightning Network. “
Also on June 2, 2020 Antoine Riard and Gleb Naumenko published a paper on another Lightning Network vulnerability called the “time-dilation attack”. A frightening fact that Naumenko and Riard reveal about the time dilation attack is that it is “currently possible to steal the total channel capacity by keeping a node in shadow for only 2 hours”.
Not long after that issue, Antoine Riard recently discussed another susceptible abuse called the “Lock Attack. Riard notes that to his knowledge, “currently deployed LN peers are not safe against [certain Pinning Attack] scenarios. “A given scenario” requires hard, long-term work on the base layer, “emphasized Riard.
The Lightning Network has been around for quite some time, but these vulnerabilities and exploits coupled with how unfriendly the user experience is, it’s hard to imagine the second tier solution catching on.
Of course, some exploits are more expensive than others, and engineers are working on solutions to fix these issues. However, many Lightning Network skeptics don’t believe the LN protocol will ever be ready, as one person noted on Twitter:
Even if that were a success (by 2051, with a third of buyers already dead in old age), Lightning Network would STILL be vulnerable to Flood and Loot attacks, and trivial protocol-level DDOS. Lightning Network is not a single solution.
What do you think of the Lightning Network vulnerabilities revealed this year? Do you think it is a good scaling solution? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or invitation to an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is directly or indirectly responsible for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.